Recently Betty Reid Soskin retired from her job as a National Park ranger. She is 100 years old, being the oldest active park ranger until her retirement.
Betty’s life followed a very interesting path. She was raised in a Cajun-Creole African American family who moved to Oakland in 1927 after the Great Flood in New Orleans. Betty graduated from high school and vividly remembers historical events such as Amelia Earhart’s departure and loss. She worked in a segregated Union Hall as a file clerk during World War II. She then met and married her husband and opened the first black-owned music store called Reid’s Records, which remained open until 2019.
She had a varied career and in the early 2000s she helped develop the plan for the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park. She worked with the National Park Service under a grant from PG&E to uncover untold stories of African Americans on the home front during World War II. At age 84 she became a permanent employee of the National Park Service and has been leading programs and sharing her personal remembrances at the park visitor center.
In 2015 she participated in the national tree lighting ceremony in President’s Park under President Obama. She introduced the President on the national PBS telecast. In 2019, she had some downtime after suffering a stroke and attending physical therapy, but she was back at work before COVID hit in 2020. During COVID she presented on several virtual sessions sharing her memories. She has won several awards, written a book, and was featured in a documentary.
If you would like to watch one of her Ranger programs, you can find it here – https://www.nps.gov/media/video/view.htm?id=3E1592F1-9AC2-4330-9603-72B20A139AF1.
Betty’s example shows that any age can be a time of exploration and involvement. We want our clients to be able to engage in activities that bring them joy and increase the quality of their lives. It may not be working until they are 100 years old, it can be as simple as engaging in self care or exercising in the best way they can. If you are planning for your future or you have an older adult in your family that could use some assistance planning for health aging, we would be happy to assist. Please give us a call at 317-300-5454 or email us at Shannon@AgingLifeCareConsultants.com.